Limping is a condition that we’ve been talking a lot about around here. It’s never something I personally like to see in my dogs and a condition that I always try to avoid. However, I have giant breed dogs that at some point in time in their life are going to limp for one reason or another so it’s important that I know the facts when dealing with this condition.
Please welcome this guest post on limping from Ryean Bishop from Bannock Animal Medical Center. BAMC is dedicated to providing compassionate care to dogs and their people. They specialize in the treatment of dogs and cats with an open door policy to anyone who wants to learn more about what we do
What to do when a dog is limping
When dogs feel pain in the paw, elbow, shoulder or hip, they will limp to keep weight off the limb. Some dogs may refuse to move much, while others try to stay active and suffer through pain. Because you know your dog better than anyone else, observe carefully to determine whether your pet is in real distress. When the limp doesn’t go away and you don’t see anything obvious, like a thorn in the paw, it’s time to call the veterinarian and get your dog some medical attention.
Observe the Limp
By observing your dog, you can sometimes make educated guesses about which limb is affected. Sometimes the dog will make it obvious and refuse to put any weight at all on the hurting limb. Other times, you must watch for clues. For example, when pain is in a back leg, dogs often hold that leg more foreword than usual. Dogs will also shift weight to the opposite side of the leg pain. Gently examine your dog for any clues, such as a laceration on the paw or a small wound on the leg. All this information can help the veterinarian narrow down the cause of the limp.
Common Causes of Limping
Limping is a dog’s way of avoiding too much weight on one if its limbs. Just like in humans, a limp can be caused by external or internal triggers. Here are some of the more common causes of limping in dogs:
- Paw lacerations from glass or metal fragments
- Thorns or stickers in the paw
- Overgrown or too-short nails
- Inflamed joints
- Elbow or hip dysplasia, where bone fragments work into the joint
- Loose cartilage
- Torn ligaments
When to Call the Vet
If you’re concerned about your dog’s limp, call the veterinarian for a consultation. Describe the symptoms and see whether the vet suggests you bring the dog in right away or if it can wait. Don’t feel embarrassed about calling the vet, even if your dog’s limp turns out to be no big deal. Limping is just one symptom of several major health issues for dogs, so it’s better to be safe than sorry. Your dog relies on you to take care of his physical needs, including getting him to a professional who can help remedy a limp.
Ryean Bishop enjoys sharing his knowledge and experience on canine training, behavior, health and wellness with other pet owners. He encourages all pet owners to visit the vet with their dogs for complete pet care.
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If your pet is showing any signs of distress or you suspect your pet is seriously ill, contact your veterinarian immediately. This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care.